Poor air quality in the Eastern US directly affects hikers and others who recreate outdoors. Haze pollution diminishes scenic views and can negatively affect respiratory and cardiovascular health. By participating in the AMC’s Mountain Watch Visibility Reporting from the trail, your observations become an important part of understanding how haze pollution affects mountain views and the recreational experience. Providing your opinion of whether visibility on your hike was "acceptable" or "unacceptable" will provide resource managers with information on the value of clear views to the hiking public.
Here is how you can help:
- Download a data sheet or request one via email that you can edit.
- Plan a hike to your favorite vista along a mountain trail and pack your camera.
- Take a photo from your viewpoint and record your opinion of the view and other information requested on the data sheet.
- Email your photo and send the data sheet to the address provided.
- Consider repeating observations at the same location and sign up for Adopt-A-Peak and the Mountain Watch Flower Watch program.
You can also participate using View Guides provided at 4 of AMC's Backcountry huts, Madison, Lakes, Greenleaf and Galehead.
Teachers: Check out this on-line curriculum and AMC online background information on ozone and haze pollution. Read our fact sheet about ozone and haze pollution and their impact on hikers.
Air Pollution and the Disappearing View:
Hazy days that bring poor views are not solely caused by humidity as commonly believed. Tiny air pollution particles, or aerosols, cause most haze. Regional haze is pollution that is transported hundreds of miles. The primary pollutants in haze are sulfate and nitrate aerosols. Most sulfates come from coal-burning power plants and most nitrates come from cars and smokestacks.
Air Pollution and Hiker Health:
Ground-level ozone results from pollution emitted by vehicles and power plants. It occurs mainly in the summertime, when these pollutants are heated by the sun and formed into ozone molecules. Ozone directly impacts the health of outdoor enthusiasts, as high concentrations of ozone and/or more hours of exposure can cause temporary damage to our lungs and affect our lung capacity.
For more information on how to participate in AMC’s Visibility Volunteer Program email us at AMCMtnwatch@outdoors.org.